The reports of many parents are confirmed by the words of experts and doctors. “Even in Italy, following the Covid-19 pandemic, there had been a collapse in the number of cases of scarlet fever. But now in many schools, especially nursery schools, a significant increase in cases has been observed, although without any invasive disease”. This was explained by Susanna Esposito, coordinator of the Infectious Diseases and Vaccinations Technical Table of the Italian Society of Pediatrics (SIP) and full professor of Pediatrics at the University of Parma, who specifies: “there are no reasons for alarm, but it is important to swab in case of symptoms and start therapy within 10 days of onset, to avoid complications”.
Scarlet fever is an exanthematous disease, caused by group A beta-haemolytic Streptococcus, transmitted by mucus and saliva, and for which there is an obligation to report, but there is no national monitoring register.
“During 2020, 2021 and 2022 little circulated. Now, in the absence of restrictions, all pathogens have resumed their intense circulation. In recent weeks, there have been epidemics of scarlet fever in schools in various Italian cities”, explains Esposito. The period of greatest contagion is from December to April and the most affected age group is between 2 and 8 years. “Unlike similar diseases, such as measles and chicken pox, there is no vaccine and once you have it, you are not immunised.”
The crux is the correct diagnosis. “Apart from the sore throat and fever, it is accompanied by a first whitish and then red coloration of the tongue and by a rash with tiny bright red raised spots, which lead to giving a uniformly red color. They start on the chest, and then widen and accentuate in the groin region and armpits. In case of symptoms, a rapid pharyngeal swab should be performed and, if positive, antibiotic therapy should be started”. We must not be frightened, she continues, but the important thing, concludes the expert, is “to treat it within 10 days of onset to avoid abscesses or immune-mediated reactions, which can cause complications such as rheumatic disease, carditis, glomerulonephritis and post-streptococcal arthritis”.